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This coming Sunday, the week before Easter, is designated in the Christian calendar as Palm Sunday, marking the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem hailed by the crowds as God’s promised king as they used the leafy branches a a kind of ‘red carpet’ welcome.
Jesus’ deliberate action, seemingly at odds with his previous avoidance of mass publicity, reminds us he was never the victim of circumstances but in control of his destiny.
He had said he would lay down his life voluntarily and his action put him firmly in the spotlight. It was a very deliberate claim to kingly authority but not in keeping with popular notions.
People asked the question, who is this? Jesus still raises questions for many. That is no bad thing in a time of great uncertainty, with many questions about life. However when it became clear that the answers didn’t suit popular perceptions the cries of ‘Hosanna’ turned to ‘Crucify him!’
To the Roman authorities the solution was simple – any hint of rebellion to imperial power was to be crushed mercilessly. The sign over Jesus’s cross read – This is the King of the Jews.
It is legitimate to ask questions about Jesus. But we must have the integrity to listen to the extraordinary claims Jesus made about himself and the New Testament witness to them as valid answers worthy of our attention. On one occasion Jesus himself asked a question of the disciples: ‘Who do you say I am?’
As we come to Easter this year with its message of resurrection hope in Jesus Christ what will be our answer?
James Beaton, Oban Free Church.